Freedom and Self-Discipline

For the first time in my life, I did not carry any books to read on my journey. There were works to be completed as I was going to visit different communities. On the way back home, I was stuck! So many hours of travel…and no company to talk to, no book to read, no Ipod to listen to! How long to do the self-talk! My mind was driving me crazy…with an uncontrolled flood of unnecessary and wasteful thoughts. I was strongly regretting my decision of not carrying any books to pass the time.
In the meantime, a voice from within whispered, “You are fed up with hearing the sounds…why don’t you listen to the SILENCE for a change? Enough watching the sights and focusing on the invisible SPACE between!” And behold…a new world began to emerge altogether! The deeper I dived, the stronger it pulled me in. My mind had gone blank! And here in this space, I was merging into the heart of the cosmos…no more me-thou, but one! The experience of being complete…being fulfilled…being peaceful…and being filled with bliss! Indeed it was causeless happiness at an experiential level! Here I found ‘the missing rib’…the single solution to all the problems, whatsoever! And then, the rest of the journey was in complete grace!
In the global village which we live in today all distance is set at zero. But at the same time freedom is the main concept we have to understand well. It is the absence of undue restriction and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers. It may refer to freedom of conscience, religion, education, speech and political freedom.
The Emmy Award-winning Hispanic actor, Ricardo Montalban of the last century, affirms the natural affinity between freedom and discipline. He says, “Only through self-discipline can we achieve true freedom”. And he uses the analogy of water and a cup: “pour water into a cup, and you can drink. Without the cup, the water would splash all over. The cup is discipline.” Freedom is not the right to do as a person pleases, but the liberty to do as he ought. Freedom is best when it is reasonably restrained and rationally made use of.
As we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption, she gives us the message of total liberation through her “Magnificat” both on a personal as well social level. As St. Ambrose once said in referring to this wonderful prayer, “Let Mary’s soul be in us to glorify the Lord; let her spirit be in us that we may rejoice in God our Savior.”
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

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Leadersheep: Youth Camp

Manila – The Guanellian Youth Camp 2017 happened in Pavilion Campsite, Banaba Cerca, Indang, Cavite May 29th-June 1st with the theme “Guanellian Youth: Bellwethers of the Flock.” Being compared with a bellwether, a leader sheep, each of the member of the Guanellian Youth Ministry (GYM) is being moulded to be a leader and role model of faith to his/her family, friends and community through good deeds and following the life of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
The participants listened to a series of talks and activities to enhance their leadership skills equipping them with wisdom and knowledge. Bro. Mark Jay Gensis shared that being brave, positive, responsible, accepting opinions and challenges, and believing in your God-given potentials will help you become a happy and productive leader/member. Bro. Harry Indonilla talked about the importance of commitment and how to stay committed in order to keep the faith burning while following our Lord Jesus Christ. Lastly, Ms. Charmaine Ramirez shared that having a good character is an essential part in being a good leader this means that one should be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring and a good citizen, this also includes constantly doing the right things and following the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Divided into three mini teams named after the Young Three Seers of Fatima, St. Francisco, St. Jacinta and Blessed Lucia, Guanellian youths enjoyed and showed their competitive spirit in different team building activities including the ‘Amazing Race’. Running while blindfolded, crawling through mud, and answering logical questions tested each of the team’s physical and mental capability to work as one.
Aside from physical and mental activities participants did not forget to strengthen their faith through praying the rosary and other devotions that help them endure all unnecessary challenges especially bad weather. The last day was spent swimming at Layu-Layo beach in Nasugbu, Batangas.
GYM would like to thank all the people who supported us financially to make this activity possible.

Listen to One Another

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A couple of years ago, I was flying from Detroit to Tokyo. I had an aisle sit. Next to me sat a gentleman who appeared to enjoy the sight from the little window. We had a 12 hour trip ahead of us. I tried several times to make conversation and he replied with grunts. When I made a comment, he either ignored me or gave me another groan. I decided to forget him. I said to myself: he will have to go to the rest room and ask me to move. He never did. Perhaps God endowed him with long term organs. We need to stop looking at our cellular phones, and instead really encounter and listen to one another. Beware of bad habits that prevent us, even within our families, from truly listening to others and empathizing with them. We can draw inspiration from the Gospel reading where Jesus brought back from the dead the only son of the widow of Nain. “When the Lord saw her He felt sorry for her. “Do not cry,” He said. Then He went up and put His hand on the bier and He said,” Young man, I tell you to get up.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God.” (Lk. 7,13-15). An encounter with Jesus overcomes our indifference.
Often when people meet each other, they think of themselves, they can see the other person but are not looking at him or her; they can hear that person but are not listening to him or her.
An encounter is something different. It is an encounter between a man and a woman, between an only living son and an only son who had died; among a joyful crowd because they had encountered Jesus and were following Him and a group of people, weeping, accompanying that woman, who had come out from the gate of the city; an encounter between the exit gate and the entry gate. An encounter that makes us reflect on our way of interacting with each other. Jesus “was moved with pity.” When Christ observed something unfortunate, He encounters and reacts, never remaining indifferent. If we see something sad, we say ‘what a shame!’ Jesus doesn’t pass by, He is moved with pity. He goes up to the woman for a real encounter and then performs the miracle and, at the same time He restores the dignity of the mother and son.
In this Gospel’s encounter, we not only see His tenderness but also the fruitfulness of that encounter that restores people and things to their proper place.
We are accustomed to a culture of indifference and we must strive and ask for the grace to create a culture of encounter, of a fruitful encounter, of an encounter that restores to each person his or her own dignity as a child of God, the dignity of a living person.
We are accustomed to this indifference, when we see the disasters of this world or small things: ‘What a shame, poor people, look how they are suffering,’ and then we carry on. And if I don’t look, it’s not enough to see, no, we must look. If I don’t stop, if I don’t look, if I don’t touch, if I don’t speak, I cannot have an encounter and I cannot help to build a culture of encounter.
We all are in need of his Word and need that encounter with Him.

In our families, at the dinner table, how many times while eating, we watch the TV or write messages on our cell phones. Each one is indifferent to that encounter. Even within the heart of society, which is the family, there is no encounter. May this help us to strive for this culture of encounter, just as simply as Jesus did so. As Christians we need to look, listen and meet, rather than just see, hear, and pass by. Don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity. Draw near, touch and say in the language that comes to each one of us in that moment, the language of the heart: Do not weep, and donate at the very least a drop of life.
Whether we are Cooperators, Brother Knights or Religious, Jesus loves us and wants a creative relationship with us. And from his fullness we all received grace upon grace.

Traces of God’s Presence and Human Quests and Desires!!

My head was aching, heart was heavy, spirit quite low and there was a spiritual desertification! I felt that I needed a spiritual revitalization and then I went for an annual retreat to research the traces of God’s presence in my consecrated life journey. I thought that this desire would be helpful due to the unfavorable situation around me, negative criticism, unfair and unloving attitudes. A deep despair was setting in… and I knew I could not change this situation. When I attended the retreat and listened to the preacher and spent more hours in silence I got this unexpected surprise! The Lord said, “My son, it’s not the lovelessness, imperfections of others or your non-stop visits causing this pain, you are in pain, you have withdrawn your love from Me and, are focusing on others’ momentous concern, love and friendship. And whenever anyone blocks the free flow of this energy of love they are bound to suffer.” By becoming hard, insensitive, unloving, and judgmental, we harm ourselves and become nervous but often we do not realize this. The master creator has designed us very wisely. In our bodies, there is a system of ‘chemical reward/punishment’ that acts instantly. A single negative thought about someone is enough to generate toxins in our body that manifests itself not only in our emotions, but also on our very countenance!
Since I am on my canonical visitation in Vietnam/Philippines I would like to emphasize the aspect of ‘interculturality’. Today our Congregation is made up of members from many different countries, that is international/multicultural. Now-a-days no one is surprised to hear questions like: present society bets on mono-culture or multicultural? Internationality is not just an accidental happening, related to the numerical composition of the groups and communities, but it is leading people to make valuable choices, being capable of appreciating in them the birth of a very positive missionary attitude, such as: tolerance, openness, receptivity, dialogue, creativity, appreciating of whatever is different in others. As W.H. Auden says “civilization should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”

In the Month of Flowers

Manila – Flores De Mayo, which means “flowers of May,” was celebrated by the Filipinos throughout the month of May in honor of and gratitude for the Virgin Mary. The Servants of Charity and San Isidro Labrador Parish offered this annual program for the children of Pantanco, San Agustin, Roque and the ‘good children’ from Guanella Center and Guanella Home. The purpose is to emphasize the Catechism and educate them about celebrating the month of May in honor of Mary. For the first time, the San Isidro Labrador Parish conducted a quiz bee which focused on topics in the Bible. All of the children participated. May 26th was the culmination of the Flores De Mayo celebrations, beginning with a question period by the seminarians. They quizzed the children on their knowledge of Flores De Mayo. Prizes were given to those children who were able to answer the questions. A series of presentations given by the children who participated in the Flores De Mayo program brought the month to a close.

Lenten Pilgrimage

Kumbakonam – The priests, sisters and parishioners of Divine Providence Parish went on a pilgrimage during Lent. Early Saturday morning, April 1st, the pilgrims departed in two buses heading for Kalpattu. Upon arrival, they ate breakfast and prayed the Way of the Cross. Mass was celebrated at St. Paul the Hermit’s Church before journeying towards Villianur. At the Immaculate Sister’s Convent, the sisters provided the pilgrims with a meal before going to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine for personal prayer and the Rosary. The next stop of the spiritual journey was at Sacred Heart Church for an opportunity to purchase Holy articles such as Rosaries, rings and prayer books. Cuddalore Silver Beach was chosen for an evening in nature and a meditative walk. After relaxing at the beach, the pilgrims headed toward home stopping in Meensurutti for tea and vadai. Through the intercession of St. Paul the Hermit and Our Lady of Lourdes, it was a joyful and spiritual experience for all of the pilgrims.

Mary, “Memory of the Church”

The month of May is a season of growth, when nature is reborn. It is the time when the earth bursts forth fresh foliage and green grass after the stern frost and snow of winter; the raw atmosphere; the wild wind and rain of the early spring; it is the season when the blossoms are upon the trees and the flowers are in the gardens. It is the time when the days get long, the sun rises early and sets late. With such gladness and joyousness of nature, it is so fitting for our Mother Church to make this month a special and significant season of renewal and rejuvenation for her faithful through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the pure threshold of divine relationship.
God willed both: to reveal Himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome the revelation in faith. The desire to know and love God is a gift. It is a reflection of the mystery of the divine relationship of the Holy Trinity, a divine communion of persons. The uncreated Persons of the Trinity willed to make communion with the human, the created persons of their image and likeness. After countless covenantal promises and break-ups, finally they found a holy threshold, the ‘Blessed Virgin Mary’, to renew and re-erect the imperishable pillar of relationship with humanity through the great event ‘Incarnation’. Mary’s beauty is known in her fiat and total Amen. She is referred to as a “Woman of Assent and the Memory of the Church”.
St. John Paul II so beautifully named Mary the ‘Memory of the Church.’ The Church, as Mary, is Virgin and Mother. She is the model, the mother, and the personal summa of the Church. Mary’s fiat is the nexus whereby all mankind is able to give consent to the influx of the communion of the Trinity. Time and eternity hinged on this maiden’s ‘Yes’ to the communion of grace and holiness, which made her the ‘Woman of Assent.’ She is also the ‘fullness of grace’ that is the plenitude of Trinitarian communion. She is the daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Understanding these divine privileges in the life of blessed mother Mary, St. Louis Guanella surrendered both of his Congregations unto her care and protection. He initiated all his religious ministries upon his strong trust in the Providence of God and unshakable devotion to the Mother of Divine Providence, Blessed Mary. Enjoying her motherly kindness and guidance, St. Louis Guanella has beautifully written a book dedicated to her ‘In the Month of Flowers.’ In his writing he has strongly exhorted his followers ‘to adorn ourselves with the holy virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to embrace her footsteps to enjoy divine communion with the Holy Trinity.
Fr. Guanella had strong affection and disposition towards Mary. Sharing the same family spirit and devotion, we also need to frame our religious life upon the style and surrender of Mary. As we happily prepare to celebrate the priestly ordination anniversary day of our holy Founder, it is more fitting for us to imbibe the spiritual nourishments of our founder for our holy priesthood. Our priestly life based on the virtues of Blessed Virgin Mary would be the most precious gift and honor for him. If our mere life would become a convincing witness and message, than our words as that of our Founder.
May is normally part of the Easter season, the period of fifty days which lasts from Easter to Pentecost. The Easter season is a fitting time to recall Mary’s immense joy over her Son’s Resurrection and to rediscover her role as mother and teacher in our lives. Mary has a unique role in God’s plan of salvation and in the Church. She consented to the coming of the Savior and cooperated in developing His mission. She brought Him into the world, raised Him and lovingly stood by His side during the years of His hidden life. She supported Him during His public ministry in a quiet way, beginning at Cana, where by her intercession Jesus performed His first miracle. She cooperated in His work, even uniting her own suffering with that of her Son, standing at the foot of His cross. Mary was Jesus’ first disciple, humbly following Him during every step of His journey and mission. She trusted in God completely and lived by His grace. She is our model of true discipleship and of complete faith.
The Blessed Virgin Mary offered the disciples her prayers, motherly care, and witness. She continues to offer us her motherly love and intercession. During this month of May, let us rediscover her maternal role in each of our lives. Let us offer our spiritual mother our sincere prayers, that just as she aided the first Apostles with her prayers, she may also guide and intercede for us in our journey of faith. Let us learn from her how to love and trust God completely and how to be faithful witnesses of the Risen Lord.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

Youth as Missionaries of Mercy

Cuddalore – Youth can provide us with an opportunity to grow as a person. It is a season of hope, enterprise and energy toward society as well as to an individual. The thirteen young Guanellians of Sahaya Matha parish, Samupillai Nagar, along with senior members visited the Global Institute for Mentally Challenged Children for a Lenten program on March 12th. It was a wonderful experience for our group, and provided them with a wake-up call. Various games warmed up the atmosphere; tea and snacks sweetened up the discounted; dance cheered up the discouraged, and storytelling caused the distressed to look-up. At the end, the team provided the teaching aids for the institute. The legion of Mary also visited the deaf and dumb school as their Lenten program for March 20th.

Blessed Clare Bosatta, DSMP

Blessed Clare Bosatta was beatified by St. John Paul II on April 21, 1991. On April 20th we celebrate her feast day. Twenty-six years ago we were delightedly surprised by the Holy Father’s decision to beatify our Sister Clare. In expectation of the celebration of the event we lived intensely a period of great enthusiasm in order to acquire a deeper knowledge of our Sister’s holiness and, as from the day of her beatification, we have certainly experienced her protection as well as her encouragement to deepen our knowledge of her message and to imitate her example.
As the years have passed, she has become ever more familiar to us and has enabled us to better understand the holiness and spirituality of St. Louis Guanella. Indeed, we might say that her beatification gave a further impetus to promoting our Founder’s canonization. There is no doubt that Blessed Clare contributed with her prayers from heaven to ensure that Fr. Guanella was declared a Saint. We know that Blessed Clare had a crucial influence on the Founder’s journey to sainthood. Still today, those who kneel before their urns at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Como cannot but receive that holy incentive to integrate hard-working charity with the contemplation of the sources from which the grace of our activity comes. May the memory of Sr. Clare’s beatification revive in all of us gratitude to the Lord for our holy origins. Faithfulness to living their spirit and putting it into practice will increase our faith and love.
Walking towards holiness together, as Fr. Guanella, Sr. Clare and all the good people of God did will reinforce communion and collaboration among the people of God. We also want to renew our commitment of spreading the devotion to Blessed Clare and to ask our Blessed for her intercession so that her holiness may be proposed to the entire Christian world with her canonization. St. Louis Guanella loved Sr. Clare. In the beginning he was puzzled by Sr. Clare’s religious life style. He had an inspiration that Sr. Clare was a mystic. Fr. Guanella was moved to intensely study the works of St. Theresa of Avila. From then on, he understood that Sr. Clare was a saint and a mystic. She was the “little flower” of Guanellian spirituality.
Fr. Guanella wrote a biography of Blessed Clare. It is available at the St. Louis Center upon request.
Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed Clare Bosatta
O Jesus, Savior of the lowly, who made Blessed Clare Bosatta shine through the spirit of sacrifice, by rendering her an untiring apostle of Your Gospel among the poor; teach us her total abandonment in Divine Providence, her love of prayer, her patience in suffering, and her spirit of dedication to the most needy. Grant us, through her intercession, the grace … that we ask you for trustingly through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Blessed Clare, intercede for us!

Recollection for Guanellian Cooperators

Bangalore – One’s soul is nourished through spiritual formation, serving the poor with love and compassion. A first recollection was organized for our Cooperators on March 11-12th, building the group spiritually and providing an opportunity for everyone to get to know one other. The event was led by Fr. Prakash and Fr. Adaikalam. Fr. Prakash led the group with the theme, “The Aimed and Expected Purpose of a Guanellian”. He emphasized that our Founder considered relationships very important and always respected the feeling which is “Love”. He took this from scripture, where he adored the love of Abba Father, and always loved everyone. Fr. Prakash took the parable from John 15:1-17 “The Vine and the Branches” and explained how we need to stay connected to God down to the roots, so that we will bear fruit. The Cooperators meditated on each verse in the Guanellian Way and reflected on how Father Guanella would have responded. Fr. Adaikalam then emphasized the formation to help each Cooperator see God in everything. The day concluded with a talk by Fr. Gnanaraj who spoke of the Paternity of God. As a Cooperator, the life of every individual must be based on spirituality and moral values.